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West Chester cancer survivor walking cross country to help families fighting cancer

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 4:53 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Tri-State man is using his feet instead of a car on a cross-country trip to help families fighting cancer.

West Chester native Cody O’Connor is walking from New York to Los Angeles to raise money for his own non-profit, which helps families fighting cancer.

O’Connor was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma when he was 14 years old. He is now 25 years old and has been cancer-free for the last five.

“You don’t get to choose when you wake up and fight cancer,” explains Cody O’Connor, “It just chooses you in a sense. So, these kids don’t get an out, they don’t get a break, and neither will we.”

O’Connor is the oldest of seven kids and says his cancer diagnosis affected the entire family.

“Going through my battle, I saw a lot of stuff that my family was going through,” remembers O’Connor, “And given our network, we knew that stuff would be short-lived. But the stress of eviction, losing our house, wondering where food was coming from, bankruptcy and all of that. That all plagued my mom and going through cancer is a plague enough.”

His non-profit Champions Do Overcome has already helped several families financially in only a few short years.

“We really wanted to help change the outcome and be an organization that a family can lean on,” O’Connor adds. “Provide support systems where they’re non-existent and cover the cost-of-living conditions from start to finish on the battle [with cancer]. That way, they don’t have to worry about making the decision of going to the hospital or going to work. They can just sit there and be there with their child and their child isn’t fighting by themselves.”

O’Connor is walking eight to nine hours a day, totaling 17 miles on average.

He hopes to arrive in Los Angeles by Thanksgiving.

O’Connor says it has not been an easy journey so far, but he will not quit the second toughest challenge in his life.

“Cancer itself, there’s nothing like cancer. These tough days on the road aren’t tough compared to that,” declares O’Connor. “Similar in a sense that you are stuck in your own head. You have to have faith, you have to keep taking that next step and you have to keep waking up and doing it, but there is no pain in the world like finding out you, a child, a loved one has cancer.”

O’Connor will be in the Cincinnati area beginning Friday. There is a fundraiser already planned, but more are in the works.

You can follow his journey on Facebook or Instagram.

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